Establishing a Writing Plan
What is a Writing Plan?
I've been thinking a lot about my writing lately and I've come to the conclusion that it's time that I put together a writing plan. What's that? Well, instead of saying, “I plan to write something this weekend,” my writing plan will encompass the goals and desires for my writing.
Whether you call yourself a writer, an aspiring writer, or even just someone who likes to write from time to time, it doesn't hurt to formalize your expectations. My goal is to become an accomplished published author. It doesn't necessarily mean that I have to become a Best Selling Author, but I would like to publish a few books and have at least a meager following.
How Will a Writing Plan Help Me?
It's quite unfortunate that these things just don't happen by themselves. Since I don't see a visit from my Faerie God-Mother any time soon, a plan of action will help outline the steps that I'll take in order to see that dream become reality. My plan consists of a lot of writing. Funny how that works, eh?
While I really want to start working on novel-length pieces, I don't feel I'm ready to tackle the drawn out plot scheme. Therefore, to perfect my technique, I will start off my writing short stories for submission. I will only submit to contests and publications that allow me to keep the rights to my work. This is the first part of my writing plan, nothing too difficult so far.
Once I've had a few pieces successfully published, I will have accomplished at least two things. First, I will have written stories that people enjoy and the lessons I learn about what works and what doesn't will help me perfect my writing skills for when I turn to writing novels. Second, as I break into print I will likely pick up readers who enjoy my style of writing and will look for new stories that I write. This avid readership, or lack thereof, is what can make or break a new writer.
Your plan can be posted to your blog or a writing forum to rally support, or you can choose to be secretive and only announce phases as you are comfortable doing so. Since my plan is pretty in-depth on where I want to be and what I want to do, I will be choosing to keep the majority of it secret. I'm not really worried that someone will try to steal my ideas, I just like the idea of a secret battle plan, it adds a bit of excitement.
So, decide where you want to be with your writing and once you've determined that you can start putting together a course of action that will take you there. Do you want to be a freelancer and make a certain amount of money per year with your writing? You'll have to determine what type of pieces you're willing to write and start finding leads. Putting together a process to follow will result in more success than simply saying, “Some day I would like to make money with my writing. If that bozo can do it, so can I.”
Do you want to write a children's book and have it published? First you'll have to come up with an idea, write it, and then start sending it out to potential publishers. Then what? Is that where your writing goals stop? What about contingencies? Will you give up if your first attempt meets repetitive failure? Will you be willing to change your plan to include new strategies?
While working my guts out this last week, I took a minute to browse through a few blogs. I came across one that hadn't been updated in months. I was strangely curious what this last post would say, so I started reading. I had found myself the ramblings of a frustrated writer. The blogger had taken the time to write his first novel. After sending it out a few times and meeting rejection after rejection he was bewildered, how could this be!? His family and friends had all given him such great feedback! Feeling scorned by the industry he turned to Print-on-Demand. Having not sold many copies, he mused that even in the P.o.D world you had to devote a large amount of time to ensure your book became a success, time that he didn't presently have if he wanted to continue writing.
There were some rhetorical questions about people reading his sample chapters on his site and not leaving feedback and what that must mean. Intrigued, I followed the link back to his site and pulled up the PDF file with his sample chapters. Not being able to devote my full attention in the midst of my work, I told Acrobat to read the document to me. I ended up closing the application and shaking my head long before the sample was finished. I was completely uninterested in the story. It was a good idea but the execution was dreadfully dull. Your plan should include the possibility of learning where you went wrong.
If all you are concerned about is being published, any old Print-on-Demand outfit will do... to hell with the publishing industry! But if you want to be successful, you have to learn that there is always room for improvement beyond our current understanding. Your plan should include and promote improvement.
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